France 'singled out' as enemy: intelligence chief

23rd November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 23 (AFP) - France is viewed as a target by a number of terrorist organisations, with several groups known to be planning attacks against the country, France's head of domestic intelligence warned on Wednesday.

PARIS, Nov 23 (AFP) - France is viewed as a target by a number of terrorist organisations, with several groups known to be planning attacks against the country, France's head of domestic intelligence warned on Wednesday.

The terrorism threat in France is "unfortunately a real concern," Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, the director of the DST domestic intelligence agency, told RTL radio, as France's parliament prepared to examine a new anti-terrorism law.

He said this was "because a certain number of organisations have singled us out as an enemy, and also because our own investigations reveal day after day that networks already in place are working to set up terrorist projects hostile to our country."

Part of the current threat could be traced to Iraq, Florian said, warning that the conflict was acting as a "magnet for would-be holy warriors" from other countries, including France, to create a new generation of Islamic extremists.

"For the past two years, at a fairly regular pace, we have seen young French nationals and French residents leaving for Iraq," Florian said, adding that his services had identified 22 such youths so far.

"When they return, if they return, they are experienced and determined enough to represent a threat on our territory. We do not want France to become a land of jihad," he said.

Florian said the French intelligence services were aware of, and were monitoring some of the channels used to recruit young Islamic warriors in France and tried to prevent youths from leaving for Iraq whenever possible.

Florian ruled out any involvement by Islamic extremists in the recent wave of rioting in high-immigration French suburbs, saying that although some extremists were thought to have supported the rioters, "it is not their fight".

France's parliament was on Wednesday to start debating a new anti-terrorism law, inspired in part by British police's success in identifying the London suicide bombers using video-surveillance footage.

The new legislation, drawn up following the July bombings in London and approved by the French cabinet last month, aims to give the authorities greater access to modern technological tools in investigating terrorism cases.

The law's most visible outcome is likely to be a big increase in the number of video cameras installed in public places in France, which currently has only some 60,000 cameras compared to four million in Britain.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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